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Guatemala City, Guatemala
We have been called as missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve with the Perpetual Education Fund in the Central America Area. We are living in Guatemala City, Guatemala and we work at the area office. Our assignment is to visit with the Stake PEF Specialists in all seven countries, to train and assist them in this inspired program.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Journal - June 14 - 20

14 June 2010…..Monday
I was at the office all morning, tying up loose ends but still no updated directory for the bishops in Guatemala. Dick left to take a temple missionary couple to Price Smart. They are new and just arrived in country a couple of days ago. When he got back to the office he brought me home and then he went to Convergence to take care of Blackburn’s final doings for internet and cable.

Family Home Evening tonight was at Johnson’s, half a block away. We walked over. Blackburns did their famous, or “infamous,” portrayal of Abbott and Costello of “Who’s on First.” They are quite the entertainers. It was raining afterwards. Dick and Tilleys walked back to the apartments and I jumped in Martino’s car for a dry ride home. I had to say my goodbyes to Blackburns. I will really miss them.

We got mail at the office….Jessica’s graduation announcement! Our house is officially back on the market. Here we go again! Long distant selling is not recommended!

15 June 2010.....Tuesday
Dick drove Blackburns to the airport this morning at 6 am and Tilleys took all the luggage. It would be very nice if one of us had a bigger van, but alas, the Corolla station wagons we all drive are too small for people and luggage. Late last night Elder and Sister Tobler arrived. They will replace Tomkinsons at the dental clinic. They will live in 201, the three bedroom apartment across the hall from us. We met them, briefly, this morning.

After going to the airport this morning Dick went to the office for a couple of hours. He was back to get me at 9 am and I had everything packed and ready to go. We drove to the Casa de Húespedes, happy to get the newly remodeled room with the queen size beds instead of the bunk beds. We have nine young missionaries, 4 sisters and 5 elders. The Gala Tours van that picks them up at the airport always waits till we are ready to go to the Employment Resource Center and then transports us all there. We went to lunch at the restaurant down the hall from ERS. It tasted pretty good to me today….spaghetti plus squash and carrots. The horchata (a rice drink) was very watered down so I didn’t drink much.

This afternoon Elder Martino came and spoke an hour. Our missionaries are always thrilled to have a general authority speak to them.

As I was working on my computer in one of the offices today I got into a conversation with a volunteer at the ERS. She speaks some English, has served a mission and wants to go to college. She was very interested when I told her we were PEF. She is from Amátitlan Stake. I replied that that area was hit hard with the volcanic sand and the flooding from Tropical Storm Agatha. She said she woke up that day about 4 am and water was rising over her feet. She called for her mother. Their TV, radio, clothes were all affected by the flooding. After she is finished here today she is going to help with a priesthood project in her home area to help those who have lost everything. I said it was all very sad. She said, “ the Lord is calling his people to repentance.” Amen!

16 June 2010…..Wednesday
We were up bright and early and ready to board the shuttle to go to the Employment Resource Center at 7 am. The streets were damp but no rain while we traveled. Yesterday morning was absolutely gorgeous but we had a lot of thunder and rain the rest of the day. After our opening devotional we went to the restaurant for the “tipico” breakfast. I particularly like the “nectar” to drink. Usually, it is melon. Today it had pineapple, papaya, and mango in it. I was able to get hooked up to the internet early and except for taking a few pictures of our group and the Institute director I was able to do computer work. Lunch at the restaurant was the usual un-exciting selection. I had a bowl of beans and some rice, but I didn’t eat the cauliflower and broccoli mix that looked like it had been boiled for a couple of hours. Some doctors have told us not to eat cauliflower or broccoli because we can’t disinfect them enough to kill all possible germs. Those veggies on the menu today couldn’t possibly have had even the most minuscule germ left after all the cooking.

When class was about finished we passed out the McFlurrys that had been delivered by McDonalds. At 4 pm we went to the curb and boarded our “bus.” We took a picture of everyone by the bus when we got back to the Casa.
Then we all went to the temple. One of our sister missionaries had been having stomach problems since she came Tuesday morning. She hardly ate anything, even skipping two meals. At the temple she told me she had “fear” about going home and not having a companion to travel with by airplane tomorrow morning up to the Peten. I told Dick so he could talk to her later. When he saw her in the lobby afterwards he asked if she would like a blessing. She said, “No. I have been to the temple. I am fine.” She was gung-ho at the prospect of ordering Big Mac’s, fries, and drinks when we got back to the Casa. The transformation in her countenance was uplifting. So, Dick and a couple of elders drove to the nearby McDonalds and we all went into the kitchen at the Casa and ate.

We love our experiences with the returning missionaries and this group was no exception. Only one sister was picked up by her mother after the temple session. The other eight spent one more night.

17 June 2010…..Thursday
When every missionary but one had left, Dick took him for breakfast at McDonalds. It was 11 am before he was finally picked up. We loaded up the car and came home. We unloaded the car and then Dick went to San Martíns to get a dozen large rolls and I heated up three cans of corn. Rexene had planned a little surprise meal for our four apartment workers and the guard. Today is the Guatemalan Father’s Day. Rexene, Sandy and I took our folding tables down to the lobby and set the table with real dishes. Then we took down food that others had helped prepare…..roasted chickens from Price Smart, rice, punch, and cake, plus the corn and rolls. Mario, Rogelio, Victor, Tomas, and the guard were surprised and very pleased. It was an hour later before they were through eating and they ate it all! These are good men who we trust, who take care of whatever we need and keep this building spotless. Their earnings are a pittance and they have families to support. We wanted them to know how much we appreciate them.

The Clarkes and Martinos wanted to take us out to dinner before they leave for the month of July. Caziers, Tilleys, and we met them at our favorite Chinese restaurant. The streets were flooded with rain. My favorite dish, camarones (shrimp) with picante sauce, was more delicious than ever. We had a very enjoyable meal and visit. We greatly appreciate our association with the Area presidency.

18 June 2010…..Friday
This morning I typed the PEF loan exceptions for Dick, in Spanish. Then I typed up the schedule we have with the returning missionaries, from Tuesday morning when they arrive to Thursday morning when the last of them leave. Dick emailed the schedule to Elder Martino and we will print one for Elder and Sister Arnold, our replacements who will arrive here tomorrow night. Dick had written the schedule out in Spanish but I typed it in English. A little later Sister Dunford called from Belize to ask Dick some PEF questions and I talked to her about some of the students she has visited recently. Then I entered her comments about each of them onto the PEF administrative site.

Our shoe shine boy, Gregorio, 13, was in the office. He likes to learn new English words. Lately, Dick drills him on multiplication tables. Today John started asking him about square roots and was amazed at all of the correct answers. Telma Chacon and Patty Alvarez, secretaries to the Area Presidency, have taken him under their wings and help him with his homework. He is thriving with their help. He is not the same little boy he was almost two years ago.

MacArthurs and Tilleys were heading out to lunch and so we met them at Wendy’s, of course. I still don’t know the fascination with Wendy’s but I am getting very tired of it. I had my usual baked potato and chili with orange juice to drink. The company was great though. Then we drove over to Pais and did some grocery shopping. We bought water, bread, milk, eggs, juice, yogurt, cereal, granola bars, bananas, crackers and cookies to put in the apartments of the two couples arriving in the next few days…..just enough to tide them over till we can take them to the grocery store.

The power went off late afternoon and we weren’t even having a thunderstorm. Charlie Albert and Jim were in our apartment visiting. Rexene and I went upstairs and visited with Judy Albert. When we couldn’t see much anymore we came downstairs and I lit some candles. That always works like a charm and the power came on in less than five minutes. Cheryl Baldwin came by the apartment and brought the markos for Tilleys and us that the Cranneys had purchased for us in Sololá. Markos are the measuring devices used by the people in the Book of Mormon.

19 June 2010…..Saturday
We had our usual Saturday activities, getting the apartment cleaned and laundry done. We went up to apartment 303….Blackburns old apartment that has been painted and cleaned, and put in the grocery items we purchased yesterday. Dick went to the office for awhile and I made an Angel Food cake.

At 2:30 pm we loaded our car and Tilleys car with big black plastic bags of clothing and boxes of miscellaneous items from Tomkinsons, Blackburns, Tilleys and us that we are leaving in Guatemala with our branch members. The Acevedos will go through it and distribute it to the branch members, according to need. Fillmores also drove over and he did a dental hygiene presentation with the branch members. We had 30 in attendance and they enjoyed the entertaining presentation.

Dick and Jim made an airport run to pick up Elder and Sister Arnold. They were back at the apartments by 9:30 pm. We had the key for Arnold’s apartment and they were very pleased with it. We really like this new couple who has come to replace us.

20 June 2010…..Sunday
Today is Father’s Day, a day to be grateful for my wonderful Daddy and to remember the things that he taught me, and also a day to honor the man I chose to be father of my children. I chose wisely and our children have great love and respect for him. This morning Tom and Julie Arnold rode to Church with us. They will fit it beautifully here with all the other senior couples. La Sabana Branch was also very welcoming to them and I know they will enjoy attending with the good people there. Sister Arnold will inherit the teclado when we leave and she will take over the music for Sacrament Meeting and Primary. That will be a huge blessing to the branch.

After a relaxing afternoon of reading, phone calls, and a nap for Dick, we went to Cazier’s apartment for a Father’s Day meal. I took Angel Pudding, a recipe of Dick’s mom…..angel food cake broken into pieces and covered with a mixture of chocolate and whipped cream. The only problem here is that the cream doesn’t whip up nice and airy and light. But, it still works. (The recipe is in the Graff Family Cookbook, attached to my blog.) We had a delicious dinner and a wonderful visit with our good friends.

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